N.M. public regulation commissioner admits drug addiction, rebuffs calls to resign
Jerome Block, Jr., absent since July 28 after records surfaced that he misused a state-issued gas card, returned to Santa Fe Tuesday and said he had a prescription drug addiction but would not resign from his post on the Public Regulation Commission.
“I’ve been battling an addiction with prescription pills, medication and it’s something that’s been rough. I’ve been getting treatment for it,” Block told reporters in his office. He said he has been using prescription drugs for two-and-a-half years, but is clean now. Block told the New Mexican that he used oxycodone, the active ingredient in OxyContin.
“I’m not admitting any of the charges are legitimate, but I haven’t been in the right places sometimes,” he said.
When asked whether he would resign as requested by Gov. Susana Martinez, the PRC, Democratic party chairs in his district and the state Democratic Party chair, he said, “You know, the people of New Mexico District 3 elected me to be here… they could not re-elect me you know, that voice will speak and that is the way I will step down.”
Block is up for re-election in 2012. He makes $90,000 a year as commissioner.
Block has faced a series of allegations in recent days beginning with apparent misuse of a state-issued gas card. Records show he spent $5,000 in six weeks on the state-issued card before it was canceled, often with multiple fill-ups within minutes of each other and sometimes for vehicles that were not his own. He also drove his state-issued vehicle on a suspended license for 11 months before voluntarily giving up his driving privileges. He reportedly took a 2006 Honda Accord out for a test drive from a car dealership and did not return it, prompting the dealership to report it as stolen.
He also faces criminal charges for campaign finance violations related to his 2008 publicly-financed campaign.
House Speaker Ben Luján told KOB News that he would be willing to consider a “committee of inquiry” during the special session, but said impeachment proceedings would be premature since Block hasn’t been charged with a crime. State Rep. Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe) also told the station it would cost the state upwards of $1 million to impeach Block, assuming that it costs $50,000 per day to keep legislators in Santa Fe for about 20 days.